Following a flurry of activism around bicycle and pedestrian safety in Chicago last year — and the successful passage of a law that sharply raises penalties for parking in bike lanes — a new ordinance has been proposed that would use mounted city cameras to enforce such rules.
The proposal was introduced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot — who had to chastise her own security detail last year for parking in a bike lane — and several aldermen who have been pushing more strict enforcement of bike lane protections. It aims to “result in safer driver behavior throughout the City.”
If it’s approved by the City Council, the idea would be piloted in an area roughly bounded by North Avenue, Ashland Avenue, Roosevelt Road and the lake, which the ordinance says “contains the highest concentration of serious crashes, traffic congestion, public transit service, pedestrian activity and commercial activity in the city.”
The so-called Smart Streets pilot would use “automated parking enforcement systems” “to record covered offenses and enforce parking regulations within the pilot area.” Vehicle owners could be ticketed by mail for parking in bike lanes, bus-only lanes, crosswalks, bus stops and no parking zones, and for violations to be captured from cameras fixed on city poles or on the front of city or CTA vehicles, according to a release from the mayor’s office.
Drivers who violate the rules would have one warning, and if they commit again, would get ticketed. The pilot is scheduled to last through June 30, 2025.
A separate pilot would be established to test solutions to get standing vehicles, like trucks making deliveries or cars waiting to pick up passengers, moving along more quickly, as well as the potential creation of a “reasonable fee” for the use of curb space in the same pilot area.
The second pilot would use license plate readers to enforce parking violations in commercial loading zones, with an aim to prevent double parking “that puts drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians in unsafe conditions, decrease vehicle idling and reduce emissions, and create a more efficient system for payment and drop-offs for commercial drivers,” according to the mayor’s office.
Separately, Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th, also introduced an ordinance to give drivers for companies like Lyft, Uber, and food delivery services a chance to appeal if they are kicked off a rideshare or delivery app.
Drivers say they lose access to all rideshare and delivery apps if they are deactivated on just one of them, which they say is “a damaging policy” that happens without due process, according to a release from a coalition of Illinois labor groups that includes Justice for App Workers Midwest and the Illinois Independent Drivers Guild.
”The ordinance would create a Driver Resource Center to review deactivation cases, ensure fair compensation for lost wages if reactivated, and include further initiatives to protect the livelihoods of Chicago rideshare and delivery drivers,” according to the release. It has been referred to City Council’s license committee.